Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
The major international airport in Arizona is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), four miles (six kilometers) east of the downtown area. There are flights to most major American cities and also a few direct flights to Europe, Canada, and Mexico.
Airlines serving Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: AeroMexico, Air Canada, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection, Frontier Airlines, Great Lakes Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, jetBlue Airways, Midwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Volaris, and WestJet.
Drive in AZ
It will be hard to get around without a car, and finding anything of interest around Flagstaff for more than 1 day is impossible on foot. Williams, AZ (just west of Flagstaff on I-40) has a train that goes up to the Grand Canyon and is a town oriented to tourists visiting the canyon. Flagstaff is more of a motorist, truckers and railroad town, although there are plenty of motels. Go see the Canyon, then catch a bus down to Phoenix with stops in Sedona and maybe go all the way to Tucson if you have the time and inclination. You did not say when you would be traveling but summer months in Phoenix or Tucson are HOT. Flagstaff is pleasent in the summer but no place to spend time without transportation.
Very easy driving - roads often deserted. Not many gas stations so keep topped up. During our weeks tour we moved daily and therefore carried all our worldly goods in the car - we were a little concious of leaving to take tours etc but made sure our cases were always covered with a towel to be less obvious. A vehicle with a boot may have been better for this.
I-17 and I-10 through Phoenix were at standstills when we went through but we may have been unlucky with our timing (5pm 'ish).
Some "scenic routes" may not be suitable for RV's - watch for the signs.
Our Alamo hire was a success and we would use them again. It took a little while for us to get used to "Bossy Bessie" as she was always beeping at us to put belts on, close doors, turn off lights etc.Related to:
- Road Trip
General Arizona Driving Tips
- School zones in Arizona are only immediately surrounding crosswalks close to schools. The speed limit drops to 15mph for the distance from the point where the "15 mph" sign is place until the crosswalk (not until the opposing sign).
- Pedestrians always have the right of way. You will encounter pedestrian crossing with overhead signs and, often, signals, where pedestrians will often step into traffic, carefully waiting for cars to stop. The protocol here is that you also stop.
In parking lots, it is general protocol that cars stop for pedestrians crossing a lane of traffic.
- At a pedestrian crossing, if a signal is solid red, you must stop and wait for it to change. If the signal is FLASHING red, you should stop, make sure there are no pedestrians in the crossing, and then proceed.
- In Phoenix, the HOV lanes on roadways are open to cars carrying two or more passengers (including babies and other children), motorcycles, taxis, local public buses, and hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles with special state-issued plates or stickers, between 6am and 9am and 3pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday. All other times, they serve as general purpose lanes open to all traffic.Related to:
- Road Trip
Arizona Cheap Gas Advice
I-10, Tucson to Las Cruces:
Fill up in Tucson and Las Cruces. Lordsburg, NM generally has cheaper gas than anything east of Tucson in AZ. If you must, Benson and Willcox are generally around the same price. In Benson, follow the business I-10 route and skip the stations at I-10/AZ 90.
I-10, Tucson to Phoenix:
In the past, Eloy ("Sunshine Road" exit area) had cheaper gas than both Tucson and Phoenix. In the past two years, however, this has shifted, and Phoenix is often even cheaper than Eloy. As a rule, Tucson is always cheaper than Phoenix. The cheapest gas in Tucson varies wildly, as does the cheapest in Phoenix, so it's best to check the web sites: http://tucsongasprices.com/, http://phoenixgasprices.com/
Fill up in Tucson (or Phoenix) and again in Yuma. Gas is always cheaper in Arizona than in California, and San Diego County is typically the highest in that state. It's a good idea to get a little gas to get you by when you reach El Cajon, which generally has the cheapest gas in San Diego County. In Yuma, the cheapest gas is often along 4th Avenue south of I-8.Related to:
- Road Trip
wide open roads & Saguaros
As long as you don't get in rush hour traffic around the greater Phoenix area, driving around Arizona is a joy. Straight open roads unfold before you as you drive through scrub brush desert dotted with huge Saguaro cacti. You can't get any more “out west” than this. Distances are great but there always seems to be something to see en route.
Our route south to north was from Organ Pipe National Monument to Saguaro National Park which took about four hours to cover the 150 mile trip. From nearby Tuscon to Montezuma's Castle it was another three hours and 200 miles. Tack on another half hour of a very scenic 25 miles to Sedona. From there, it's another 120 miles and two and a half hours to the Grand Canyon. We also took in Chiricahua National Monument in the far southeastern corner of the state that was two and a half hours and 120 miles. We hit Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly later in the trip, coming from Colorado and Utah but it would be about five hours to the furthest point. Don't let the distances or driving times scare you though. Getting there is part of the fun but take your time as speeding limits especially on reservation lands are strictly enforced. Besides, the scenery is priceless so soak it all in.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
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From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim
We were picked up early in the morning at our hotel - Tropicana hotel in Las Vegas - and delivered to the Airport. Flight from Boulder Airport to the Grand Canyon.
Tour began with a flight over Lake Mead and Hoover Dam before flying to the South Rim. (The Hoover Dam on Colorado River creates Lake Mead at the border of Nevada-Arizona.
Length 379 m, height 221 m.)
From Grand Canyon Airport motorcoach tour with more stops at South Rim. The Grand Canyon, one of the wonders of the world, has been created by Colorado River cutting through rock for two billion years.The canyon is 446 km long, from 6 to 24 kilometers wide and more than a mile deep.
Late afternoon back to Las Vegas.
Duration cca. 8 hours including more then 2 hours flight. Price was about $200,- pro Person. Everything was allright.Related to:
- National/State Park
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Best Way to Experience Desert - Driving!
The Arizona desert is huge, and there's really no reliable public transportation that will bring you around the whole area. To access those native Indian dwellings and amazing desert landscapes, you need to have your wheels --- bring or rent a car, RV or even rent a Harley Bike (some companies offer Harley rentals). RV's are convenient in that a lot of cities and state parks are RV friendly. The roads in Arizona are wide and well-maintained, and some of the rest areas have the best scenic views of the desert. Gas stations are also plentiful, and sometimes gas is even cheaper in Flagstaff that the bigger Phoenix metropolitan area! So, if you are up to extensively exploring this state and its neighbors, get some gas money and maybe a GPS device might help too!Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
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Use a tour company...Timberline Adventure
My mom and I booked our trip with Timberline Adventures. This was an all-inclusive trip. All you need to do is arrive at the hotel, they pick you up and the adventure begins. They book your lodgings, provide meals, and plan the routes and transportation. Its great if you don't have much experience planning hiking (they also do biking trips) trips. Some of the trips are not easy. This trip was not easy. You don't necessarily need to be hiker-fit, but you need to be an active person and able to hike 13 miles in 90 degree weather with a 10# pack on. We had 6 hikers and 3 guides. The guides rock :) ! They love what they do and want you to have a safe, enjoyable experience.
Don't Stop in Flagstaff
If you are driving the interstate as it passes through Flagstaff, do NOT get off to take a break. Trust me on this. More times than I can count I have taken that route and after several years of stopping in Flagstaff for gas and/or lunch, I finally gave up because the traffic headache is just not worth it.
There doesn't seem to be a time when there isn't construction on the surface streets making the already gnarled traffic even worse. Besides all the residents of the city, there are also all the tourists and it just makes for a long delay that, if you're on a schedule, you might not be able to afford.
By all means, if you have nowhere in particular you have to be at any certain time and you really need an Arby's right then, get off the 40 and go, but if you are trying to make a certain town by nightfall or something to that effect, skip Flagstaff and eat/pee/refuel somewhere else.Related to:
- Road Trip
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Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport
Phoenix Sky Harbor airport is one of US Airways' major hubs for the western US, and it is used by 19 other airlines.
Parking is available in the terminal garages for $20 per day while the economy garages charge $10 a day.
A 2006 JD Power survey ranked Phoenix as American travelers' 9th favorite large airport.
Rent a car!
I think the only way to really see Arizona is to drive it. There is so much to see and it's nice to set your own pace doing it.
When we have visited, we rented our cars at the Phoenix airport. This last time we rented from Budget, they had the best prices at the time. All of the rental agencies park their cars a little ways away from the airport. So although you can check in with them in the airport, you need to take a shuttle out to your car. The shuttle pick up stations are just outside of the building from the rental agencies. Most (if not all) companies provide you with road maps of the area.Related to:
- Road Trip
RAFT THE CANYON!
For doing the Grand Canyon, you can either try and obtain a permit for doing the river on your own - the permit waiting list is something like 10 years - or you can go with one of the guide companies (most of them have websights; search 'Grand Canyon river trips'?). I went with a company called Moki Mac and can recommend them. The different companies have different trips though most have a 2 week through trip or split the trip up into roughly weeklong trips - the catch here is you either have to hike out of the canyon at Phantom Ranch if you are doing the first part of the trip (Marble Canyon is the prettiest stretch in my mind), or you have to hike down if doing the second half of the trip (the biggest rapids are on this section with one, Granite Creek, only a short float down from Phantom Ranch).
For more on rafting in the Grand Canyon, see my two travellogues in the Grand Canyon National Park section.
Use your feet!
If you are coming from overseas or elswhere in North America then you will probably fly into Phoenix or Tuscon.
If travelling overland then Arizona is well served by road. The car is the easiest way to travel as it takes you to more or less where you want to go. In the NP's though it is best to get out and walk, particularly in the Grand Canyon. You can take mules down to the canyon floor, but it is expensive and often you have to book for monthes in advance.... when walking is free. The other option is the free shuttle bus which operates around the Grand Canyon complex.
While driving around the boonies ......
When road tripping about the Southwest, keep in mind that there are large stretches of road without services for travelers.
For this reason, I stick firmly to my 'rule'... the gas gauge never drops lower than 1/4 tank before I refuel. This provides me w/ a safety margin, as well as a better choice of fill up spots for price comparisons along the way.
Just use common sense and try to buy yourself a bottle of water whenever you stop - out here you can never drink enough of it :)Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
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